For reviving his career, playing at a Pro Bowl level and leading the Titans to the AFC South title and a first-round playoff bye, Tennessee quarterback Kerry Collins gets an unwelcome reward.
Collins now faces a Baltimore defense that’s the most feared in the game, with a linebacker every bit as intimidating as Dick Butkus or Lawrence Taylor and with a safety who, if he never played another down, would have accomplished enough to already be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Collins has been through this before. Last time Collins played this well was back in the 2000 season, when he led the New York Giants to the Super Bowl — only to run up against the same Ravens.
In that game, Baltimore bottled up Collins the same way it hopes to Saturday, limiting him to 15 completions in 39 attempts for 112 yards and four interceptions. Collins could get nothing done against those Ravens. This Ravens defense, with Ray Lewis still anchoring it, is nearly as good.
It might not be any big deal that Collins now faces the team that handed him the single biggest defeat of his career. But that game also happened to be played in Tampa, Fla., where this year’s Super Bowl will be held.
As he tries to reach Tampa, where he struggled, Collins gets the Ravens, whom he struggled against in the Super Bowl.
It probably all means nothing. But it’s in the history books as surely as it has to be in Collins’ head.